Please note, I received compensation in exchange for this blog post – Tracey Hagan, Pawsitive Purpose Dog Training & Behavior
The new year is a time when we all look to start new exercise routines and get into shape. If you own a dog, you probably have wondered how to incorporate your dog into some of your new routine so he can also get more exercise and maybe not have the extra energy to chew up your couch. But before hitting the neighborhood with a new running buddy, there are a few things you should know.
Dogs, like people, should be eased into new exercise routine. You should have your dog checked out by a veterinarian to make sure he is healthy enough to add a new exercise to his day. Once he is cleared, then you can start slowly taking your dog on your new walking route, or maybe for an extra walk in the afternoon. But walking isn’t the only thing you can do to help your dog get more movement into his life. There are several different things you can do with your dog that will help him, and you, get into better shape.
If you have a water dog, swimming is a great way for your dog to exercise. But make sure you start slow, get your dog a life jacket for safety, and start with shallow water to start. If your dog doesn’t like to swim, don’t try to force them to be a water dog just because you like the water. Let your dog choose if they like the activity or not. It is ok for your dog to choose another activity to do with you.
Playing with your dog such as fetch, hide and seek, tug and other games can be fun for you and your dog. And it can be a great way to get your dog some extra exercise throughout the day. These games is also good for mental stimulation, which is another very important thing your dog needs to be healthy and happy. So playing games, adding in some nose work or puzzle toys can be very rewarding for you and your dog.
If you do want to just add more walking in, especially if you are both starting something new, you can add “sniff walks” for your dog. Let him sniff along the way. This will be a good way to add in the nose work mentioned above. Dogs loves to sniff everything. They also need to sniff to learn about their world. So take your dog on different routes through your neighborhood and let him sniff, or take them for a hike in a wooded area where their nose will be on high alert for all the new scents they will find.
Make sure no matter what new exercise you choose for you and your dog to try, that you follow the following guidelines.
- All dogs do not need the same amount of exercise. Small dogs need approximately 30 minutes of exercise a day, where a husky, border collie or lab may need up to 2 hours a day or more! Take everything very slow in the beginning to let you and your dog build up endurance and tolerance to the exercise, if you try to go too fast, you may cause your dog to have an injury. There is nothing wrong with going slow. Let your dog set the pace for new activity.
- Avoid outdoor activities on hot days and make sure your dog always has access to fresh, cool water at all times so they don’t overheat. If it is hot, make sure you are avoiding hot asphalt or sidewalks as these can cause burns on your dog’s paw pads. Let your dog walk in the grass or only go out at cooler times of the day. Take frequent breaks for water and rest. Watch your dog for signs of exhaustion, illness or injury when exercising. If you have any doubt, just head home. It will be better for both of you to err on the side of caution.
- And the most important thing…have fun with your dog!
Tracey Hagan, is a certified dog trainer at Pawsitive Purpose Dog Training & Behavior. To see her full list of credentials, check out more here.